When we moved into our current home, we had the place wired for ethernet. The state of the art for WiFi at the time was 802.11b – 10 Mb/s, short range. I had ethernet cabled everywhere, and then used WiFi for devices that were better mobile – laptop computers initially, and later mobile phones, music players, and so on.
For the last 6 years there have always been two hotspots – one in the basement in the wiring closet (Saunders), and one placed on the main floor family room (Foo). This was to achieve coverage, primarily. The basement is not a great location for your primary router, but that’s where the whole house is cabled from.
Foo is a 2002 vintage Dell TrueMobile 1184 – slow 10Mb/s 802.11b, and no wireless G. I retired it yesterday, after upgrading an aging Linksys WRT54GS router using the excellent DD-WRT firmware. DD-WRT is an open source project which allows you to take a commodity, consumer grade router (like the very common Linksys router I have), and reflash it with software much more akin to a high end commercial wireless router.
What can you do with a router equipped with DD-WRT? Run a commercial hotspot, a WiFi VPN server, a bridge, or a mesh network, to name just a few. And in my case, boost the power of the transmitters. The software allows you to adjust the power anywhere from Linksys default of 70 mW up to 240mW, or down. I chose 84mW, which with the 2.2 dBi of antenna gain that the Linksys “rubber ducky” antenna is rated for comes well within the maximum legal limit of 100mW.
14mW of extra power, and now my coverage is good everywhere in the house.
So before you rush out and buy an 802.11n router (as I had), check out DD-WRT. The upgrade was painless, and the results are exactly what I had hoped for.